Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Debate on UNAMA
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Debate on Afghanistan (UNAMA), 21 December 2017, New York.
I would like to align myself with the statement to be made later on behalf of the European Union and its member states.
Let me begin by thanking Special Representative Yamamoto, Executive Director Fedotov, and Ambassador Umarov for their comprehensive briefings. Let me also thank, in particular, Ms Wazhma Frogh, for bringing the voices of Afghan women into the chamber today.
The report of the Secretary-General underlines the continuing instability and volatility that affects the lives of the Afghan people on a daily basis. At the same time, as Special Representative Yamamoto has pointed out today, opportunities do exist to break the cycle of violence that has afflicted the country for four decades.
Mr President, I would like to make three points today.
Firstly, only the Afghan people, working together, will determine the future for Afghanistan. An Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process remains essential. Therefore, we welcome the Afghan government's strong commitment to engage in a political process.
The upcoming meeting in the Kabul process will be an important step towards creating an environment conducive to peace. We strongly encourage UNAMA to actively support the efforts of the Afghan government to ensure that the Kabul meetings result in a sustainable peace process.
During her visit to Afghanistan in October, the Swedish Foreign Minister met with representatives from all parts of society, and underlined the importance of an inclusive peace process. Ensuring that the whole population, meaning both men and women, can participate effectively is vital for the achievement of a sustainable peace, as is the active participation of civil society.
The regional context is important as many of the challenges facing Afghanistan cannot be dealt with in isolation. We urge all stakeholders, especially Afghanistan's neighbours, to assume responsibility and to work together towards a political settlement. There is tremendous potential in increased regional cooperation and we welcome the engagement of the central Asian states in this regard.
It is imperative for Afghanistan's future stability that parliamentary elections take place in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019, as announced, and that the elections are conducted in an inclusive, credible and transparent manner. Every effort must now be made to ensure difficulties are overcome and that elections take place.
We welcome the Secretary-General's emphasis in his report on women's participation in elections. We urge the electoral management bodies and the Afghan government to take all necessary steps to ensure women's full participation in the elections, both as voters and as candidates.
Secondly, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law is vital to the achievement of sustainable peace. We congratulate Afghanistan on its election to the Human Rights Council. As an elected member of the Council, we expect Afghanistan to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. We deplore the recent executions of five prisoners and urge the government to reinstate the de-facto moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing this cruel and inhumane punishment.
We appreciate the efforts of UNAMA in the area of human rights, not least pertaining to its work on children and armed conflict and civilian casualties. We encourage them to continue this important work.
Attacks against humanitarian and development workers, health-care professionals, medical transports, hospitals and other medical facilities as well as schools, continue and are deeply concerning. Such attacks not only impede efforts to aid the people of Afghanistan, but infringe the enjoyment of the right to education, health and life which are crucial in building sustainable peace. In addition, civilians continue to bear the burden of the conflict, with women and children increasingly under threat. We are deeply concerned by the increased recruitment of children by armed groups, in particular the Taliban, and call for an end to this practice.
Finally, Mr President,
I would like to reiterate our strong support for the outcome of the strategic review of UNAMA and the Secretary-General's recommendations. It is now important that these recommendations are implemented without delay. With its unique field presence, UNAMA can continue to make a tangible difference on the ground and provide important support for efforts to attain a lasting peace.
An integrated United Nations approach linking together peace, development and human rights work in Afghanistan is crucial to delivering results. Our expectations from UNAMA in this regard are high.
Sweden's assistance to the people of Afghanistan has remained steadfast for over three decades. Afghanistan is Sweden's single largest development cooperation partner, and our support will continue, including for reform efforts aimed at building strong and independent institutions. The Afghan people can count on our continued backing as they advance their efforts to build a peaceful, stable and inclusive future.